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Michigan's budget would expand free tuition program for community college students

Steve Carmody

Michigan's new budget is set to lower the minimum age requirement for the state's free community college program. The Michigan Reconnect program would offer scholarships to cover the cost of community college for students 21 and older. The program is currently open to those 25 and older.

The state says 27,000 students have enrolled in community college through the program and 3,000 have completed a degree or certificate through the program.

Lawmakers have included an additional $70 million to lower the age minimum of the program for the coming year.

Brandy Johnson is the president of the Michigan Community College Association. She said that even with the 25-and-up age limit, the program has been successful.

"So far we have almost 3,000 Reconnectors that have completed a degree or certificate, and we know that they will have better outcomes in the labor market, higher wages, and are able to continue their education,"

Johnson said expanding the program will help students whose education was interrupted by COVID. "I sincerely hope that students whose learning — particularly their last year or two of high school — was so significantly disrupted, that they use this as an opportunity to re engage in post-secondary education," she said.

Johnson said the application is still open to those starting school this fall.

More information about the program can be found at Michigan.gov/reconnect. Johnson said applicants will also need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, to complete their application.

The budget is awaiting the governor's signature.

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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